Bill Maher sure is popular. I have never gotten so much mail about anything as I got about this. The typical message went along these lines; A) I don’t have a sense of humour, so B) I am unable to appreciate the subtle irony of Maher’s remarks, therefore C) I should shut up, even though D) virtually none of us actually watched the show. Well, it doesn’t work, because I got two messages from people who did watch it, and agree with my interpretation of Maher’s remarks. He was not being ironic or satirical (two of the most common adjectives used in the emails). Far from it, Maher’s remarks were intended as serious commentary and accurately reflect his views.
Further, CNN has made available a transcript of the event, and I can therefore confirm the accuracy of my quotes.
“But Iraq, we attacked because we could. That’s what the historians will write eventually. They’ll write, why Iraq? No weapons. They didn’t attack us on 9/11. We could. We needed to do make a statement to the Arab world and I don’t think it’s the worst idea in the world to make that statement which was, you know what? You attack our country like you did on 9/11, I’m not only going to kick the asses of the people who did it, I’m going to kick your cousins ass too. They had nothing to do with it, that’s just how ticked off we are. There’s something to be said for that method of diplomacy.
But Iran, that’s a different story. That’s a big country. I know a lot of Iranian people. They’re not Iraqis. They’re not backwater people.“
And this exchange which I also reported, concerning North Korea and Africa. At first, Maher sorrowfully rules out the possibility of intervening in North Korea, but then urges Bush to consider it anyway;
KING: North Korea, can we take them?
MAHER: No. I mean, we could, I guess. We could just nuke them. But, no.
KING: So what do we do about hostile nations that might have nuclear weapons? What do you do?
MAHER: I guess try to be nice to them. I mean, I don’t know.
KING: Hey, fella.
MAHER: That’s a — that’s a country that administrations of both parties have messed up over the years, haven’t they? Not that probably you could do anything about it.
KING: It’s a closed society. Really closed.
MAHER: Amazingly closed. And also great amounts of starvation going on there. If George Bush is so adamant that the situation in Iraq had to be rectified because it was morally intolerable, we have to spread freedom around the world and we can’t stand it one more day that people are living in tyranny and torture chambers, then why doesn’t he go to a place like North Korea?
I mean, if that really is the reason, seems to have become the reason in Iraq. And also Africa, you know, that situation in the Sudan is ongoing. Everybody was applauding “Hotel Rwanda.” Oh, gosh, we didn’t — didn’t act 10 years ago in Rwanda, when we should have, because the thing was going on. Well, there’s another one going on now. Do we have to wait until — do we have the make “The Hotel Sudan”? Can’t we do it before the movie comes out?” (emphasis mine in all cases)
So they’re starving, they’re “closed”, and they don’t understand democracy and freedom, so we’ve got to show them how to do it, no matter how many are murdered. Herr Maher and his ilk see military intervention as the answer to every problem, perhaps even including dirty teeth, and athlete’s foot.